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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. Nos. 118013-14. October 11, 1995.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. HON. DEMOSTHENES L.


MAGALLANES, as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 54, Bacolod City,
and P/Col. NICOLAS M. TORRES, P/INSP. ADONIS C. ABETO, PO MARIO LAMIS Y
FERNANDEZ, PO JOSE PAHAYUPAN, PO VICENTE CANUDAY, JR., JEANETTE
YANSON-DUMANCAS, CHARLES DUMANCAS, DOMINADOR GEROCHE Y
MAHUSAY, JAIME GARGALLANO, ROLANDO R. FERNANDEZ, EDWIN
DIVINAGRACIA, TEODY DELGADO, CESAR PECHA, and EDGAR HILADO,
Respondents.

The Solicitor General for Petitioner.

Alfonso B. Manayon and Wilson P. Gamboa for respondent Vicente Canuday, Jr. and Jose
Pahayupan.

Luis V. Sison for respondent Nicolas M. Torres.

Rosslyn T. Morana for respondents Mario Lamis, Jaime Gargallano, Rolando Fernandez,
Edwin Divinagracia and Teody Delgado.

Emmanuel G. Vinco for respondent Cesar Pecha.

Rolando M. Antiquera and Roem J. Arbolado for respondent Adonis Abeto.

Geocadin & Sabig Law Office for respondent Dominador Geroche.

Amado, Parreno Law Offices for respondents Charles Dumancas and Jeanette Yanson-
Dumancas.

Salvador Sabio for respondent Edgar Hilado.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; SPECIAL CIVIL ACTIONS; CERTIORARI; NO GRAVE ABUSE OF


DISCRETION COMMITTED IN CASE AT BAR. — Public respondent Judge Magallanes
committed no grave abuse of discretion in holding that it is his court and not the Sandiganbayan
which has jurisdiction over the two cases for kidnapping for ransom with murder. At the time the
informations in the said cases were filed, the law governing the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan was Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861, which pertinently
provides for its exclusive original jurisdiction and exclusive appellate jurisdiction.

2. ID.; JURISDICTION; SANDIGANBAYAN; FELONIES COMMITTED BY PUBLIC


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OFFICERS; REQUISITE. — We held in Aguinaldo v. Domagas (G.R. No. 98452, En Banc


Resolution, 26 September 1991) that for the Sandiganbayan to have exclusive original
jurisdiction over offenses or felonies committed by public officers or employees under Section
4(a) (2), of PD No. 1606, as amended by PD 1861, it is not enough that the penalty prescribed
therefor is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six years, or a fine of P6,000.00;
it is also necessary that the offenses or felonies were committed in relation to their office. We
reiterated this pronouncement in Sanchez v. Demetriou, (G.R. Nos. 111771-77, 9 November
1993, 227 SCRA 627) Natividad v. Felix, (G.R. No. 111616, 4 February 1994, 229 SCRA 680)
and Republic v. Asuncion. (G.R. No. 108208, 11 March 1994, 231 SCRA 211). In Sanchez, we
restated the principle laid down in Montilla v. Hilario (90 Phil. 49 [1951]) that an offense may be
considered as committed in relation to the office if it cannot exist without the office, or if the
office is a constituent element of the crime as defined in the statute, such as, for instance, the
crimes defined and punished in Chapter Two to Six, Title Seven, of the Revised Penal Code. We
also reiterated the principle in People v. Montejo (108 Phil, 613 [1960]) that the offense must be
intimately connected with the office of the offender, and we further intimated that the fact that
the offense was committed in relation to the office must be alleged in the information.

3. ID.; ID.; DETERMINED BY ALLEGATIONS IN INFORMATION. — It is an elementary


rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information, and not by
the result of evidence after trial. The informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 15562 and 15563 in
the court below do not indicate that the accused arrested and investigated the victims and then
killed the latter in the course of the investigation. The informations merely allege that the
accused, for the purpose of extracting or extorting the sum of P353,000.00, abducted, kidnapped
and detained the two victims, and failing in their common purpose, they shot and killed the said
victims. For the purpose of determining jurisdiction, it is these allegations that shall control and
not the evidence presented by the prosecution at the trial.

4. ID.; ID.; ‘TAKING ADVANTAGE OF POSITION’ DOES NOT MEAN ‘OFFENSES


COMMITTED IN RELATION TO PUBLIC OFFICE.’ — The allegation of ‘taking advantage
of his position" or "taking advantage of their respective positions" incorporated in the
informations is not sufficient to bring the offenses within the definition of "offenses committed
in relation to public office." In Montilla v. Hilario, such an allegation was considered merely as
an allegation of an aggravating circumstance, and not as one that qualifies the crime as having
been committed in relation to public office. It says: But the use or abuse of office does not
adhere to the crime as an element; and even as an aggravating circumstance, its materiality
arises, not from the allegations but on the proof, not from the fact that the criminals are public
officials but from the manner of the commission of the crime. Also, in Bartolome v. People of
the Philippines, (142 SCRA 459 [1986]) despite the allegation that the accused public officers
committed the crime of falsification of official document by "taking advantage of their official
positions," this Court held that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the case because"
[t]he information [did] not allege that there was an intimate connection between the discharge of
official duties and the commission of the offense. Accordingly, for lack of an allegation in the
informations that the offenses were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP
officers or were intimately connected with the discharge of the functions of the accused, the
subject cases come within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not of the
Sandiganbayan as insisted by the petitioner.
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5. ID.; ID.; SANDIGANBAYAN; JURISDICTION MODIFIED UNDER RA 7975. — In view


of the amendments to Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended, introduced by R.A. No. 7975,
approved on 30 March 1995, the Sandiganbayan partly lost its exclusive original jurisdiction in
cases involving violations of R.A. No. 3019, as amended; R.A. No. 1379; and Chapter II, Section
2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; it retains only cases where the accused are those
enumerated in subsection a, Section 4 of RA 7975 and, generally, national and local officials
classified as Grade "27" and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of
1989 (RA. No. 6758). Moreover, its jurisdiction over other offenses or felonies committed by
public officials and employees in relation to their office is no longer determined by the
prescribed penalty, viz., that which is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six
years or a fine of P6,000.00; it is enough that they are committed by those public officials and
employees enumerated in said subsection a, Section 4. However, it retains its exclusive original
over civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to or in connection with E.O. Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 14-A.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; APPLICATION ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE CRIME WAS
COMMITTED IN RELATION TO OFFICE; CASE AT BAR. — Assuming then for the sake of
argument that the informations in the said cases allege that the crimes charged were committed
by the PNP officers in relation to their office, it would appear indubitable that the cases would
fall within the jurisdiction of the court a quo. Under Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as further
amended by R.A. No. 7975. In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying the
positions corresponding to salary grade "27" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act
No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying the rank of superintendent or higher, or their equivalent,
exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan
Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be,
pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129." However, the
jurisdiction of a court is determined by the law in force at the time of the commencement of the
action. Under the above assumption then, the cases should have been filed with the
Sandiganbayan since at the time the informations were filed, the governing law was Section 4 of
P.D. No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861. But, would that jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan
be affected by R.A. No. 7975? Ordinarily, jurisdiction once acquired is not affected by
subsequent legislative enactment placing jurisdiction in another tribunal. It remains with the
court until the case is finally tertninated. Hence, the Sandiganbayan or the courts, as the case
may be, cannot be divested of jurisdiction over cases filed before them by reason of R.A. No.
7975. They retain their jurisdiction until the end of the litigation. In the instant case, the
Sandiganbayan has not yet acquired jurisdiction over the subject criminal cases, as the
informations were filed not before it but before the Regional Trial Court. Even if we labor under
the foregoing assumption that the informations in the subject cases do charge the respondent
PNP officers with offenses committed in relation to their office so that jurisdiction thereof would
fall under the Sandiganbayan, and assuming further that the informations had already been filed
with the said tribunal but hearing thereon has not begun yet, the Sandiganbayan can no longer
proceed to hear the cases in view of the express provision of Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975. That
Section provides that upon the effectivity of the Act, all criminal cases in which trial has not yet
begun in the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the proper courts. Hence, cases which were
previously cognizable by the Sandiganbayan under P.D. No. 1606, as amended, but are already
under the jurisdiction of the courts by virtue of the amendment introduced by R.A. No. 7975,
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shall be referred to the latter courts if hearing thereon has not yet been commenced in the
Sandiganbayan. It would, therefore, be a futile exercise to transfer the cases to the
Sandiganbayan because the same would anyway be transferred again to the Regional Trial Court
pursuant to Section 7 of the new law in relation to Section 2 thereof.

7. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; BAIL; MOTION REJECTED FOR


FAILURE TO QUESTION WITHIN A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME DENIAL OF
APPLICATION IN THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT. — As regards the motion for bail of
accused-respondents, the same must fail. The motions for bail filed by the accused-respondents
with the Regional Trial Court where the cases against them are pending were denied sometime in
February, 1994. In Enrile v. Salazar, (186 SCRA 217 [1990]) as reiterated in Galvez v. Court of
Appeals, (237 SCRA 685 [1994]) this Court said: "Only after that remedy [petition to be
admitted to bail] was denied by the trial court should the review jurisdiction of this Court [be]
invoked, and even then, not without first applying to the Court of Appeals if appropriate relief
was also available there." There is no showing that the said accused-respondents have questioned
the denial of their applications for bail in a petition for certiorari either before the Court of
Appeals or this Court. It was only on 26 December 1994, when they filed their respective
comments on the instant petition, that they challenged the denial premised on the ground that the
evidence of guilt against them was not strong. Even if their respective Comment and Reiteration
of Motion for Bail and respondent Dumanca’s Motion for Bail filed on 22 March 1995, were
treated as petitions for certiorari, still the same would not prosper for not having been
seasonably filed. While the Rules of Court does not fix a time-frame for the filing of a special
civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, existing jurisprudence requires
that the same be filed within a reasonable period of time from receipt of the questioned judgment
or order. And, in Philec Workers’ Union v. Hon Romeo A. Young (GR. No. 101734 22 January
1992) it was held that a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court should be
filed within a reasonable period of three months from notice of the decision or order. Here, about
nine to ten months had already elapsed before the respondents assailed the denial of their
motions for bail. In any event the private respondents who were denied bail are not precluded
from reiterating before the trial court their plea for admission to bail.

PADILLA, J., concurring and dissenting opinion: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. REMEDIAL LAW; JURISDICTION; PD 1606; SANDIGANBAYAN; OFFENSES


COMMITTED BY PUBLIC OFFICERS IN RELATION TO THEIR OFFICE AS ALLEGED
IN INFORMATION — The accused PNP personnel committed the crime alleged in the two (2)
informations in relation to their office. The wording of the informations clearly shows that P/Col.
Torres used his authority over his subordinate officers when he ordered them to arrest the two (2)
swindling suspects/victims in connection with the complaint of the Dumancas spouses. This act
of Torres is "intimately connected" with his position as Station Commander of the PNP, Bacolod
Station. In turn, the other accused PNP personnel who detained the two (2) victims were
performing their functions as law enforcers under orders from their direct superior. Under such
circumstances, the two (2) informations would have been properly filed with the Sandiganbayan
since the law in force at the time was P.D. No. 1606 which gave the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction
over offenses committed by public officers in relation to their office where the penalty prescribed
by law is higher than prision correctional or imprisonment of six (6) years or a fine of P6,000.00.
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2. ID.; ID.; REPUBLIC ACT 7975; REGIONAL TRIAL COURT AS PROPER TRIBUNAL. —
Rep. Act No. 7975 has revised the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Under said revised
jurisdiction, the Regional Trial Courts now have jurisdiction over offenses committed by PNP
officers with ranks below that of superintendent or its equivalent, whether or not the offenses are
committed in relation to their office. In the present case, none of the accused PNP officers has
the rank of superintendent or higher. Section 7 of Rep. Act No. 7975 also provides that upon
effectivity of said Act, all criminal cases within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan under P.D.
No. 1606 where trial has not begun in said court, shall be referred to the proper courts. In the
present case, even if the criminal cases were then within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan,
the offenses having been committed in relation to the accused’s office, as earlier discussed, yet,
the cases were not filed in said court. Since the cases now fall within the jurisdiction of the
Regional Trial Court under the express provisions of Rep. Act. No. 7975, they can remain in said
regional trial court.

3. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; BAIL; PROPER IN CASE AT BAR. —


Whether accused Jeanette Ya.nson-Dumancas should be granted bail, I agree with Mr. Justice
Kapunan that the Court should exercise its discretion, disregard technicalities and rule on the
motion for bail filed with this Court. Accused Jeanette should, in my view, be released on bail
for the following reasons: 1, The spouses Dumancas were included in the informations as
accused merely because they were the ones who complained to the police that the two (2) victims
had swindled them. There is no showing that the spouses knew, much less instigated, the
kidnapping and murder of the victims. 2. The situation of Jeanette is no different from that of her
husband who was granted bail by the trial court. 3. Jeanette came back from abroad even after
the charges against her had been filed. Certainly, this is not indicative of a probability of her later
jumping bail should she be released on bail. 4. To deny bail to a mother of two (2) minor
children in the absence of direct evidence that she was indeed a principal by inducement as
alleged in the two (2) informations, is antagonistic not only to her constitutional right to bail but
also to the ideals and demands of ajust and humane society.

KAPUNAN, J., concurring and dissenting opinion: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; BAIL; PETITION PROPER FOR


HUMANITARIAN REASONS. — At least with respect to petitioner Jeanette Dumancas, this
Court, mainly for humanitarian reasons, should exercise its discretion to grant said petitioner her
constitutional right to bail, pending the determination of her guilt or innocence in the trial court.
The facts so far established in the case at bench with respect to the spouses Dumancas as
narrated in the court’s opinion clearly casts enough doubt regarding the strength of the evidence
of guilt against Mrs. Dumancas, which ought to be sufficient for us to exercise our discretion to
grant bail in her case. The trial court has already refused to grant her petition for bail, which
under the facts and circumstances so far available to the lower court, constitutes a grave abuse of
discretion, subject to this court’s action. While normally, a motion for reconsideration should be
addressed to the trial court or to the Court of Appeals (if the said motion were denied by the
lower court), I see no reason why we should not exercise our discretion to grant Mrs. Dumancas
her right to bail.
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DECISION

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

At issue in this special civil action for certiorari is whether it is the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Bacolod City or the Sandiganbayan that has jurisdiction over the two criminal cases for
kidnapping for ransom with murder wherein some of the accused implicated as principals are
members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

On 13 January 1994 two informations for kidnapping for ransom with murder were filed with the
RTC of Bacolod City against fourteen persons, five of whom are members of the PNP, namely,
P/Col. Nicolas m. Torres, P/Insp. Adonis C. Abeto, Police officers Mario Lamis, Jose
Pahayupan, and Vicente Canuday, Jr.; the other nine are civilians. The informations, later
docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 15562 and 15563 in Branch 47 of the said court, are similarly
worded, except as to the names of the victims, who are Rufino Gargar, Jr. in the first case and
Danilo Lumangyao in the second, thus: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

The undersigned hereby accuses JEANETTE YANSON-DUMANCAS, CHARLES


DUMANCAS (BOTH AS PRINCIPALS BY INDUCTION), POLICE COL. NICOLAS M.
TORRES (AS PRINCIPAL BY INDUCTION AND BY DIRECTION AND/OR
INDISPENSABLE COOPERATION), POLICE INSPECTOR ADONIS C. ABETO, POLICE
OFFICERS MARIO LAMIS Y FERNANDEZ, JOSE PAHAYUPAN, VICENTE CANUDAY,
JR., DOMINADOR GEROCHE Y MAHUSAY, JAIME GARGALLANO, ROLANDO R.
FERNANDEZ, EDWIN DIVINAGRACIA, TEODY DELGADO, ALL AS PRINCIPALS BY
PARTICIPATION, CESAR PECHA AND EDGAR HILADO, BOTH AS ACCESSORIES, of
the crime of KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM WITH MURDER, committed as follows: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

That during the period beginning in the late afternoon of August 6, 1992 and ending the late
evening of the following day in Sitio Pedrosa, Barangay Alijis, Bacolod City, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and concurring in a common criminal intent and execution thereof with one
another, save for the accessories for the purpose of extracting or extorting the sum of P353,
000.00, did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously to wit: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Acting upon the inducement of spouses Jeanette Yanson-Dumancas and Charles Dumancas,
under the direction cooperation and undue influence, exerted by P/Col. Nicolas M. Torres, taking
advantage of his position as Station Commander of the Philippine National Police, Bacolod City
Station, with the direct participation and cooperation of Police Inspector Adonis C. Abeto, other
police officers Vicente Canuday, Jr., Jose Pahayupan, Mario Lamis, civilian (police) agents
Rolando R. Fernandez, Edwin Divinagracia, Teody Delgado, Jaime Gargallano, also taking
advantage of their respective positions, and Dominador Geroche, concurring and affirming in the
said criminal design, with the use of motor vehicle abduct, kidnap and detain one RUFINO
GANGAR, JR. (Criminal Case No. 94-15562) and DANILO LUMANGYAO (Criminal Case
No. 94-15563), shortly thereafter at around 11:00 o’clock in the evening of August 7, 1992,
failing in their aforesaid common purpose to extort money and in furtherance of said conspiracy,
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evident premeditation and treachery nocturnity and the use of motor vehicle, did then and there
shot and kill the said victims, while being handcuffed and blindfolded; that accused Cesar Pecha
and Edgar Hilado, with knowledge that the said Gangar [and Lumangyao, in Crime. Case No.
94-15563 were victims] of violence, did then and there secretly bury the corpses in a makeshift
shallow grave for the purpose of concealing the crime of murder in order to prevent its discovery
for a fee of P500.00 each; aforesaid act or acts has caused damage and prejudice to the heirs of
said victims, to wit:
chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

P 50,000.00 — as indemnity for death;

50,000.00 — actual damages;

300,000.00 — compensatory damages

(lost income);

100,000.00 — moral damages;

50,000.00 — exemplary damages.

CONTRARY TO LAW (Articles 268 and 248 in relation to Article 48 of the Revised Penal
Code). 1

These cases were consolidated.

Each of the accused pleaded not guilty upon arraignment. Later, they filed their respective
motions for bail. At the hearings thereof, the prosecution presented state witness Moises
Grandeza, the alleged lone eyewitness and co-conspirator in the commission of the complex
crimes. After the completion of his testimony, the trial court, per Judge Edgar G. Garvilles,
granted bail in favor of only six of the accused, namely, P/Insp. Adonis Abeto, Police Officers
Jose Pahayupan and Vicente Canuday, Jr., Charles Dumancas, Edgar Hilado, and Cesar Pecha.
The other eight accused who were denied bail are now detained at the City Jail of Bacolod City.
2

Through the testimony of Grandeza, the prosecution established that in response to the complaint
of spouses Charles and Jeanette Dumancas, P/Col. Nicolas Torres instructed his men to look for
Rufino Gangar and Danilo Lumangyao who were allegedly members of the group that had
swindled the Dumancas spouses On 6 August 1992, police Officer Mario Lamis, together with
civilian agents, namely, Teody Delgado, Edwin Divinagracia, Jaime Gargallano, Rolando
Fernandez, and Moises Grandeza, arrested and abducted the two swindling suspects.
Conformably with Torres’s order, the two suspects were brought to Dragon Lodge Motel. There,
they were investigated by Police Inspector Adonis Abeto and Police Officers Jose Pahayupan
and Vicente Canuday, Jr. They were then taken to the Ceres Compound, where Jeanette
Dumancas identified Lumangyao as a member of the group that had swindled her. She then
asked about the money that the group had received from her. Upon being told by Lumangyao
that the money had already been divided among his partners long time ago, she said to the
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accused, specifically to Dominador Geroche: "Doming, bring these two to the PC or police and I
will call Atty. Geocadin so that proper cases could be filed against them." Thereafter, the two
suspects were transferred to D’ Hacienda Motel, then to Moonlit Inn, then to Casa Mel Lodge,
and back to D’ Hacienda Motel, where the two were shot and killed. The team forthwith went to
the office of P/Col. Torres and reported that the killing had been done. The latter told them: "You
who are here inside, nobody knows what you have done, but you have to hide because the NBI’s
are after you." 3

Thereafter, the prosecution rested its case and the trial court started to receive the evidence for
the accused. Accused Torres and Abeto presented their respective evidence. Presentation of
evidence by the other accused was, however, suspended because of the motions of several
accused for the inhibition of judge Garvilles . Despite opposition by the prosecution, Judge
Garvilles voluntarily inhibited himself from further hearing both cases, which were thereafter re-
raffled to Branch 54, presided by herein public respondent Judge Demosthenes L. Magallanes.

On 24 June 1994, the private prosecutors moved for the transmittal of the records of the cases to
the Sandiganbayan on the ground that, pursuant to our decision of 11 March 1994 in Republic of
the Philippines v. Asuncion 4 the trial court has no jurisdiction over the cases because the
offenses charged were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers. In his
Manifestation with Urgent Motion to Transmit Records, the State Prosecutor adopted the motion
of the private prosecutors. 5

In its order of 15 August 1994, 6 the trial court, thru the respondent Judge, ruled that the
Sandiganbayan does not have jurisdiction over the subject cases because the informations do not
state that the offenses were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers.
Citing People v. Montilla, 7 it held that the allegation in the informations that the accused PNP
officers took advantage of their office in the commission of the offense charged is merely an
allegation of an aggravating circumstance. It further stated that a public office is not a constituent
element of the offense of kidnapping with murder nor is the said offense intimately connected
with the office. It then denied the motion for transfer of the records to the Sandiganbayan and
declared that the trial of the case should continue.

Relying on People v. Montejo, 8 the prosecution moved to reconsider the said order. 9

On 7 September 1994, 10 the trial court issued an order denying the motion because People v.
Montejo is not applicable, since in that case there was (a) an intimate connection between the
offense charged and the public position of the accused and (b) a total absence of personal motive;
whereas, in these cases, no such intimate connection exists and the informations emphasize that
the accused were moved by selfish motives of ransom and extortion.

The respondent Judge then resumed the reception of the evidence for the other accused. Accused
Gargallano, Fernandez, Lamis, Delgado, and Geroche, as well as his three witnesses, had already
completed their respective testimonies when, upon motion of the prosecution, the respondent
Judge voluntarily inhibited himself on 15 September 1994. The cases were then re-raffled to
Branch 49 of the RTC of Bacolod City.
9

On 5 December 1994, the prosecution, represented by the office of the Solicitor General, filed
with us a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus with a prayer for a temporary
restraining order challenging the refusal of the respondent Judge to transfer the cases to the
Sandiganbayan.

On 12 December 1994, we required the respondents to comment on petition and issued a


temporary restraining order enjoining the public respondent or his successor to desist from
proceeding with the trial of the subject cases. 11

On 27 February 1995, after considering the allegations, issues, and arguments adduced in the
petition as well as in the comments of the private respondents, we gave due course to the petition
and required the parties to submit their respective memoranda. Most of them submitted their
memoranda, while the petitioner and some of the private respondents adopted their initiatory
pleadings as their memoranda.

On 22 March 1995, private respondent Jeanette Yanson-Dumancas filed an urgent motion for the
grant of bail, 12 which we noted on 15 May 1995. 13

Deliberating on the arguments adduced by the parties, we are convinced that public respondent
Judge Magallanes committed no grave abuse of discretion in holding that it is his court and not
the Sandiganbayan which has jurisdiction over the two cases for kidnapping for ransom with
murder.

At the time the informations in the said cases were filed, the law governing the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan was Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861, which pertinently
provides as follows: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

SECTION 4. Jurisdiction. — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(a) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all cases involving: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(1) Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the
Revised Penal Code;

(2) Other offenses or felonies committed by public officers and employees in relation to their
office, including those employed in government-owned or controlled corporations, whether
simple or complexed with other crimes, where the penalty prescribed by law is higher than
prision correccional or imprisonment for six (6) years, or a fine of P6,000.00: PROVIDED,
HOWEVER, that offenses, or felonies mentioned in this paragraph where the penalty prescribed
by law does not exceed prision correccional or imprisonment of six (6) years or a fine of
P6,000.00 shall be tried by the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal
Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court.

(b) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library


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(1) On appeal, from the final judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial Courts in
cases originally decided by them in their respective territorial jurisdiction.

(2) By petition for review, from the final judgments, resolutions or orders of the Regional Trial
Courts in the exercise of their appellate jurisdiction over cases originally decided by the
Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, in their
respective jurisdiction.

x x x

In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or accessories with the
public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or controlled
corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees.

Applying this section, we held in Aguinaldo v. Domagas 14 that for the Sandiganbayan to have
exclusive original jurisdiction over offenses or felonies committed by public officers or
employees under Section 4 (a) (2) above it is not enough that the penalty prescribed therefor is
higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for six years, or a fine of P6,000.00; it is also
necessary that the offenses or felonies were committed in relation to their office. We reiterated
this pronouncement in Sanchez v. Demetriou, 15 Natividad v. Felix, 16 and Republic v.
Asuncion. 17 In Sanchez, we restated the principle laid down in Montilla v. Hilario 18 that an
offense may be considered as committed in relation to the office if it cannot exist without the
office, or if the office is a constituent element of the crime as defined in the statute, such as, for
instance, the crimes defined and punished in Chapter Two to Six, Title Seven, of the Revised
Penal Code. We also reiterated the principle in People v. Montejo 19 that the offense must be
intimately connected with the office of the offender, and we further intimated that the fact that
the offense was committed in relation to the office must be alleged in the information. 20

There is no dispute that the prescribed penalties for the offenses charged in Criminal Cases Nos.
15562 and 15563 before the court below are higher than prision correcional or imprisonment for
more than six years. The only question that remains to be resolved then is whether the said
offenses were committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers.

Relying on its evidence and on the Montejo case, the petitioner submits that the crimes charged
in the subject cases were connected with public office because the accused PNP officers,
together with the civilian agents, arrested the two swindling suspects in the course of the
performance of their duty and not out of personal motive, and if they demanded from the two
suspects the production of the money of the Dumancas spouses and later killed the two, they did
so in the course of the investigation conducted by them as policemen. The petitioner further
asserts that the allegations in the informations reading "taking advantage of his position as
Station Commander of the Philippine National Police" and "taking advantage of their respective
positions" presuppose the exercise of the functions attached to the office of the accused PNP
officers and are sufficient to show that the offenses charged were committed in relation to their
office. The petitioner then concludes that the cases below fall within the exclusive original
jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.
11

It is an elementary rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the complaint or


information, 21 and not by the result of evidence after trial. 22

In Montejo 23 where the amended information alleged: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

Leroy S. Brown, City Mayor of Basilan City, as such, has organized groups of police patrol and
civilian commandoes consisting of regular policemen and . . . special policemen, appointed and
provided by him with pistols and high power guns and then established a camp . . . at Tipo-tipo,
which is under his command . . . supervision and control, where his codefendants were stationed,
entertained criminal complaints and conducted the corresponding investigations, as well as
assumed the authority to arrest and detain persons without due process of law and without
bringing them to the proper court, and that in line with this set-up established by said Mayor of
Basilan City as such, and acting upon his orders, his codefendants arrested and maltreated
Awalin Tebag, who died in consequence thereof.

we held that the offense charged was committed in relation to the office of the accused because it
was perpetrated while they were in the performance, though improper or irregular, of their
official functions and would not have been committed had they not held their office; besides, the
accused had no personal motive in committing the crime; thus, there was an intimate connection
between the offense and the office of the accused.

Unlike in Montejo, the informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 15562 and 15563 in the court below
do not indicate that the accused arrested and investigated the victims and then killed the latter in
the course of the investigation. The informations merely allege that the accused, for the purpose
of extracting or extorting the sum of P353,000.00, abducted, kidnapped, and detained the two
victims, and failing in their common purpose, they shot and killed the said victims. For the
purpose of determining jurisdiction, it is these allegations that shall control, and not the evidence
presented by the prosecution at the trial.

The allegation of "taking advantage of his position" or "taking advantage of their respective
positions" incorporated in the informations is not sufficient to bring the offenses committed in
relation to public office." In Montilla v. Hilario, 24 such an allegation was considered merely as
an allegation of an aggravating circumstance, 25 and not as one that qualifies the crime as having
been committed in relation to public office. It says:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

But the use or abuse of office does not adhere to the crime as an element; and even as an
aggravating circumstance, its materiality arises, not from the allegations but on the proof, not
from the fact that the criminals are public officials but from the manner of the commission of the
crime.

Also, in Bartolome v. People of the Philippines, 26 despite the allegation that the accused public
officers committed the crime of falsification of official document by "taking advantage of their
official positions," this Court held that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the case
because" [t]he information [did] not allege that there was an intimate connection between the
discharge of official duties and the commission of the offense." cralaw virtua1aw library
12

Accordingly, for lack of an allegation in the informations that the offenses were committed in
relation to the office of the accused PNP officers or were intimately connected with the discharge
of the functions of the accused, the subject cases come within the jurisdiction of the Regional
Trial Court 27 and not of the Sandiganbayan as insisted by the petitioner.

In Dumancas’s and Torres’s motions for the early resolution of this case and in Abeto’s
Supplement to Comment with Motion to Dismiss all filed in July 1995, it is contended that even
assuming that the informations do charge the accused PNP officers with crimes committed in
relation to their office, still the Regional Trial Court would have jurisdiction over the subject
cases in view of the amendments to Section 4 of P.D. No. 16O6, as amended, introduced by R.A.
No. 7975, which was approved on 30 March 1995, whose Section 2 provides: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

SEC. 2. Section 4 of the same decree [Presidential Decree No. 1606, as amended] is hereby
further amended to read as follows: jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC. 4. Jurisdiction. — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise original jurisdiction in all cases
involving:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the
Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the principal accused are officials occupying the
following positions in the government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the
time of the commission of the offense: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(l) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director and higher,
otherwise classified as grade 27 and higher, of the Compensation and Position Classification Act
of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically including: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the sanggunian panlalawigan, and


provincial treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads;

(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the Sangguniang panlungsod, city treasurers,
assessors, engineers, and other city department heads;

(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of consul and higher;

(d) Philippine army and air force colonels, naval captains, and all officers of higher rank;

(e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank;

(f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and officials and prosecutors in the office
of the Ombudsman special prosecutor;

(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of government-owned or -controlled


corporations, state universities or educational institutions or foundations;
13

(2) Members of Congress and officials thereof classified as Grade "27" and up under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;

(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;

(4) Chairmen and members of Constitutional Commissions, without prejudice to the provisions
of the Constitution; and

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" and higher under the
Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.

b. Other offenses or felonies committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in
subsection (a) of this section in relation to their office.

c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and in connection with Executive Order Nos. 1,2,14
and 14-A.

In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying the positions corresponding to salary
grade "27" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying
the rank of superintendent or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be
vested in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions as
provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129.

The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction on appeals from the final
judgments, resolutions or orders of regular courts where all the accused are occupying positions
lower than grade "27," or not otherwise covered by the preceding enumeration.

x x x

In case private individuals are charged as co—principals, accomplices or accessories with the
public officers or employees, including those employed in government-owned or — controlled
corporations, they shall be tried jointly with said public officers and employees in the proper
courts which shall have exclusive jurisdiction over them. (Emphasis supplied).

As a consequence of these amendments, the Sandiganbayan partly lost its exclusive original
jurisdiction in cases involving violations of R.A. No. 3019, 28 as amended; R.A. No. 1379; 29
and Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII of the Revised Penal Code; 30 it retains only cases where the
accused are those enumerated in subsection a, Section 4 above and, generally, national and local
officials classified as Grade "27" and higher under the Compensation and Position Classification
Act of 1989 (R.A. No. 6758). Moreover, its jurisdiction over other offenses or felonies
committed by public officials and employees in relation to their office is no longer determined
by the prescribed penalty, viz., that which is higher than prision correccional or imprisonment for
six years or a fine of P6,000.00; it is enough that they are committed by those public officials and
employees enumerated in subsection a, Section 4 above. However, it retains its exclusive original
jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to or in connection with E.O. Nos. 1, 31
14

2, 32 14, 33 and 14-A. 34

The respondents maintain that the Sandiganbayan has no jurisdiction over Criminal Cases Nos.
15562 and 15563 because none of the five PNP officers involved therein occupy the rank of
chief superintendent or higher, or are classified as Grade "27" or higher under R.A. No. 6758 and
of the five, P/Col. Nicolas Torres has the highest rank, viz., Senior Superintendent whose salary
grade under the said Act is Grade "18." cralaw virtua1aw library

Assuming then for the sake of argument that the informations in the said cases allege that the
crimes charged were committed by the five PNP officers in relation to their office, it would
appear indubitable that the cases would fall within the jurisdiction of the court a quo. Under
Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as further amended by R.A. No. 7975: chanrob1es vir tual 1aw library

In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying the positions corresponding to salary
grade "27" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act No. 6758, or PNP officers occupying
the rank of superintendent 35 or higher, or their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be
vested in the proper Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, and
Municipal Circuit Trial Court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdiction as
provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129." cralaw virtua1aw library

However, the jurisdiction of a court is determined by the law in force at the time of the
commencement of the action. 36 Under the above assumption then, the cases should have been
filed with the Sandiganbayan since at the time the informations were filed, the governing law
was Section 4 of P.D. No. 1606, as amended by P.D. No. 1861. But, would that jurisdiction of
the Sandiganbayan be affected by R.A. No. 7975?

Ordinarily, jurisdiction once acquired is not affected by subsequent legislative enactment placing
jurisdiction in another tribunal. It remains with the court until the case is finally terminated. 37
Hence, the Sandiganbayan or the courts, as the case may be, cannot be divested of jurisdiction
over cases filed before them by reason of R.A. No. 7975. They retain their jurisdiction until the
end of the litigation.

In the instant case, the Sandiganbayan has not yet acquired jurisdiction over the subject criminal
cases, as the informations were filed not before it but before the Regional Trial Court. Even if we
labor under the foregoing assumption that the informations in the subject cases do charge the
respondent PNP officers with offenses committed in relation to their office so that jurisdiction
thereof would fall under the Sandiganbayan, and assuming further that the informations had
already been filed with the said tribunal but hearing thereon has not begun yet, the
Sandiganbayan can no longer proceed to hear the cases in view of the express provision of
Section 7 of R.A. No. 7975. That section provides that upon the effectivity of the Act, all
criminal cases in which trial has not yet begun in the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the
proper courts. Hence, cases which were previously cognizable by the Sandiganbayan under P.D.
No. 1606, as amended, but are already under the jurisdiction of the courts by virtue of the
amendment introduced by R.A. No. 7975, shall be referred to the latter courts if hearing thereon
has not yet been commenced in the Sandiganbayan.
15

It would, therefore, be a futile exercise to transfer the cases to the Sandiganbayan because the
same would anyway be transferred again to the Regional trial Court pursuant to Section 7 of the
new law in relation to Section 2 thereof.

As regards the motions for bail of accused-respondents Jeanette Dumancas and Nicolas Torres,
the same must fail. Section 17, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court provides: chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

SECTION 17. Bail, where filed. — (a) Bail in the amount fixed may be filed with the court
where the case is pending, or, in the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with another
branch of the same court within the province or city. If the accused is arrested in a province, city
or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may be filed also with any regional
trial court of said place, or, if no judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge,
municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein.

(b) Whenever the grant of bail is a matter of discretion, or the accused seeks to be released on
recognizance, the application therefor may be filed only in the particular court where the case is
pending, whether for preliminary investigation, trial, or on appeal.

(c) Any person in custody who is not yet charged in court may apply for bail with any court in
the province, city or municipality where he is held.

In the instant case, the motions for bail filed by the said accused-respondents with the Regional
Trial Court where the cases against them are pending were denied sometime in February, 1994.

In Enrile v. Salazar, 38 as reiterated in Galvez v. Court of Appeals, 39 this Court said: "only after
that remedy [petition to be admitted to bail] was denied by the trial court should the review
jurisdiction of this Court [be] invoked, and even then, not without first applying to the Court of
Appeals if appropriate relief was also available there." cralaw virtua1aw library

There is no showing that the said accused-respondents have question the denial of their
applications for bail in a petition for certiorari either before the Court of Appeals or this Court. It
was only on 26 December 1994, when they filed their respective comments on the instant
petition, that they challenged the denial premised on the ground that the evidence of guilt against
them was not strong. Even if their respective Comment and Reiteration of Motion for Bail 40
and respondent Dumancas’s Motion for Bail 41 filed on 22 March 1995, were treated as petitions
for certiorari, still the same would not prosper for not having been seasonably filed. While the
Rules of Court does not fix a time — frame for the filing of a special civil action for certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, existing jurisprudence requires that the same be filed within
a reasonable period of time from receipt of the questioned judgment or order. 42 And, in Philec
Workers’ Union v. Hon. Romeo A. Young 43 it was held that a petition for certiorari under Rule
65 of the Rules of Court should be filed within a reasonable period of three months from notice
of the decision or order. Here, about nine to ten months had already elapsed before the
respondents assailed the denial of their motions for bail. In any event, the private respondents
who were denied bail are not precluded from reiterating before the trial court their plea for
admission to bail.
16

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The challenged orders are AFFIRMED, and the
motions for bail of accused-respondents Jeanette Dumancas and Nicolas Torres are DENIED.

The temporary restraining order issued on 12 December 1994 is LIFTED, and the Regional Trial
Court of Bacolod City is directed to immediately resume the hearings of Criminal Cases Nos.
15562 and 15563 and to thereafter resolve them with reasonable and purposeful dispatch.

This decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED